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Colorado DMV Focuses on Accessibility, 'Omnichannel Experience'

Officials have leveraged digital and mobile tools to make services more widely accessible to Coloradans regardless of location. Simultaneously, they are upgrading their IT infrastructure to more modern tools.

Colorado license plate reads 720-SWW.
The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is using technology to increase access to its services through several key initiatives.

Digitizing services can help make access to government more equitable, ultimately increasing accessibility for all constituents. This has been a focus for the state of Colorado, from its work with Aira for Coloradans who are blind or have low vision to using virtual reality to train staff in accessibility. And in response to a Colorado law that dictates all government agencies must comply with state accessibility standards by July 1, agencies are taking new approaches.

The DMV has been focused on digital transformation for several years, and digital service access is at the heart of its work. Projects include enhancing the digital experience, improving mobile access to services through DMV2GO and DMV kiosks, and offering translation tools.

DMV Senior Director Electra Bustle said the work to create a positive digital DMV experience really accelerated in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The digital experience now includes the online service platform, myDMV, and a chat feature connecting users with a live agent added in February to the DMV website.

The recently added live agent chat feature, said Bustle, helps customers get answers to more complex questions without having to call the agency: “I think it really sort of drives this idea of an omnichannel experience for our customers.”

Another program that contributes to Colorado’s cross-channel customer experience is DMV2GO. Launched in August 2022, it consists of two SUVs and an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible RV, by which employees bring out full-service stations to help customers in hard-to-reach locations resolve their driver’s license needs.

Colorado's DMV2GO full-service station allows an individual at Jefferson County Jail, on the left, sits in front of a camera to take photo for identification, with the help of an employee on the right.
Photos taken during a DMV2GO visit to Jefferson County Jail on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, in Golden. (Derek Kuhn/CDOR Photo)
Derek Kuhn/CDOR Photo
The program is especially impactful for populations that may have limited DMV access, such as in jails, community centers or nursing homes. The DMV2GO self-contained vehicles do not rely on external Wi-Fi, allowing them to be used anywhere in the state.

The RVs have traversed tens of thousands of miles in less than two years, the senior director said, explaining that in some rural counties, the nearest office to get a new driver’s license is 50 miles away. In March 2023, for example, the agency visited tribal lands to ensure tribes had access to identification. And notably, when many people lost their credentials after the Marshall Fire that began Dec. 30, 2021, the DMV was able to provide new documents in Boulder County.

“It really creates that accessibility for folks that wouldn’t otherwise have it,” said Bustle. “People are so excited that it's in their hometown, and they can literally come with their documents and be able to get their driver’s license and identification credentialing done.” Because of its unique ability to deliver access to services anywhere in the state, she said the goal is to expand the program.

A separate DMV initiative that similarly helps expand statewide access to services is the Colorado Motor Vehicle (MV) Express Kiosk.
A yellow Colorado MV Express Kiosk is located next to claw machine and ice machines within a grocery store.
The MV Kiosk inside the King Soopers grocery store at 1070 W. Baptist Road on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Colorado Springs. (Derek Kuhn/CDOR Photo)
MV Express kiosks are akin to a DMV vending machine, letting people get their registration renewed, check their title status or print a duplicate registration and tab on their own time. Kiosk advertising proclaims the opportunity to complete a transaction in two minutes. The average transaction time, the senior director said, is two minutes and 25 seconds.

The devices are found in government buildings and grocery stores in 41 of Colorado’s 64 counties. The DMV has been focused on expanding the program during the past year and hopes to continue doing so.

Another tool for expanding access to service is Pocketalk, a tech tool offering real-time translation services. The DMV piloted the tool, then rolled it out across all state driver’s license offices in 2022. The tool breaks down the language barrier to accessing services for DMV visitors who do not speak English, and Bustle underlined the “huge difference” it has made in customer experience.
A Colorado DMV customer on the left communicates with a DMV employee on the right, who is holding a Pocketalk device.
Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles uses Pocketalk to help translate conversations in real time. (Derek Kuhn/CDOR Photo)
Derek Kuhn/CDOR Photo
“People literally come into offices and say, ‘Can I have the Pocketalk?’” Bustle said. “They know now it exists, and they’re wanting the Pocketalk to make that interaction easy.”

The DMV has also created a digital version and an audiobook of its driver handbook, to increase accessibility for people who may learn differently. The agency wanted to offer alternative avenues for people with dyslexia or other learning disabilities, for whom reading a print handbook is not the most effective way to intake information.

“And at the end of the day, we want safe drivers,” Bustle said. “And so, if they’re able to learn rules of the road — whether that’s reading a handbook, or listening, or looking at things digitally — then that’s a win for everybody else on the road.”

To make it easier to do business with the state, the DMV announced in August it would accept cryptocurrency through myDMV. Cryptocurrency was already being accepted for tax services within the Department of Revenue, DMV's umbrella agency, and the department helped DMV implement the change securely.

Tech-related initiatives to improve access are not the only tech work the DMV is doing, its senior director said. A three-year upgrade of its main system, DRIVES, is expected to start in November and be in production in March 2026. Millions of transactions are run through this system, so this is a major modernization with a new technology from DMV’s existing vendor, Bustle said.

The change will include new functionality for DMV’s login portal, with more security for customers and email notifications. It is also expected to allow customers to more quickly and easily check their vehicle registration status and chat with a live agent directly from the portal.

DMV’s three-year strategic plan, released Jan. 25, emphasizes customer-centric solutions. Potential future initiatives include the adoption of e-signatures, electronic document uploads and additional accessibility improvements.

As the department continues modernizing and innovating, said Bustle, “I want those words to be synonymous with DMV.”
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.